Seat belts play a core role in automobile safety. It stands to reason therefore that there are a lot of statistics concerning their use and their effectiveness available. This article aims to examine some of this information, bringing to light interesting trends in the use of seat belts.
In many countries, it is mandatory to wear seat belts. These rules, however, require reinforcement to have any real effect: use is nearly 10% less in states without primary reinforcement, that is, where police are authorized to issue tickets to those who fail to comply.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, are an organization based in the USA. In addition to the above, they found that men are 10% less likely to wear their seat belts than women. Additionally, people under the age of 35 are more likely to not wear seat belts. Lastly, people from rural areas are less likely to comply than those from urban areas.
It can be concluded that locations with a higher population of younger men from more rural areas are at a higher risk of non-compliance – examples include towns built around newly producing oil wells, or industrial parks established further away from city centers. As a result, greater care should be taken by regional authorities and drivers alike to properly enforce seat belt usage.
Seat belts have been found to greatly reduce the consequences of accidents. The CDC claims their use cuts serious injuries and deaths by half; the Road Safety Observatory claims that seat belts reduce deaths in light trucks by 60%. They were found to be the most effective for head on crashes and rollover cases, and least effective for impacts from the side – a mere reduction of 10% and 39% for when the victim was on the same or far side of the impact, respectively.
Of the different kinds of belts, the three point belt was found to be the safest, especially when combined with air bags. Lap belts provided almost no reduction in risk for frontal crashes, but were better than nothing for side impacts and rollover accidents. It is worth nothing that rear seat passengers are both less likely to wear seat belts, and have a lower reduction of risk by wearing seat belts; focus on improvement should be directed therefore towards the rear seats, as those passengers are the most at risk.
In conclusion, three point belts are the most effective; seat belts in general are very useful in reducing the risk of serious injuries or death in the case of an accident. The demographic most likely to not wear seat belts are males under the age of 35 from rural areas